Whats wrong with my lawn? (photos)

zirconxMarch 26, 2012

Help, my lawn looks terrible. I'm looking for advice on how to bring it back. I've lived here 3 years, and owned 3 homes before this one. At my past homes, I never treated or watered and my lawns always looked better than this one.

Here are some pictures:

Some background: My lawn has just gotten worse since I bought this house. I think the previous owners had used an expensive lawn service. Last year I finally broke down and did hire someone to treat the lawn, but it didn't seem to help much. This year I'm putting the Scotts stuff on myself.

I use a Toro mulching mower, I do have a sprinkler system but I don't use it that much.

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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

You got me curious. Where did you used to live? And I guess I should ask where you live now? Your profile says Nebraska but your lawn looks like it has some southern grass in it.

Are you willing to water, mow, and fertilize?

    Bookmark   March 26, 2012 at 11:21PM
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I've always lived in the midwest. I'm not sure why my past lawns have done so well with little maintenance. I think it might be because the newer lawns that have always been fertilized & watered get dependent on it? They don't have to grow deep roots because they have always been watered several times per week?

I'm willing to mow & fertilize, like I said I bought the Scotts system stuff this year. I don't want to run the sprinklers more than once per week. Trying to keep the water bill down.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 11:17AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Well the good news is you should never, even in the hottest heat of summer, have to water more than once a week. This time of year you should be watering once a month. Get a couple of tuna or cat food cans and use them to time how long it takes you to put an inch of water on the grass. Mine takes 8 hours but some sprinkler systems will fill a can in 15 minutes. You need to know what it is for your system and water pressure. Start with that amount of water every time you use it. Then watch the grass and adjust the time (hopefully downward). As the summer comes on, you will be watering more frequently but should not get to the point where you are watering more frequently than every 7 days. Frequent watering is a recipe for weeds.

Set your mower up high for deeper roots and much better drought resistance. Highest setting for fescue or a fescue mix with Kentucky bluegrass. If you had the elite KBG (you don't) then you could drop it to 3.5 inches.

After your grass has been mowed for the second time, you can fertilize with a chemical fertilizer. If you want use an organic fertilizer like alfalfa pellets (aka rabbit food), you can do that any time at 20-30 pounds per 1,000 square feet. If you really want to pump up the organic matter, you can use the organic up to once a week without hurting anything and with a significant improvement in color and grass density. If you started that now you could stop in May and have a great looking lawn for the summer.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 2:02PM
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Thanks. Can you tell from the pictures what kind of grass mine is?

I have my mower on one of the higher settings, I know thats good for the lawn, but its not on the highest setting. I will move it up.

I think the Scotts stuff I bought is a pre-emergent? Which means it prevents any new growth from happening? So should I not put that down? Are those brown spots on my lawn dead, and need seeding, or will they grow back?


    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 5:58PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

If you inspect your "dead" areas, do you see old runners criss crossing the surface? If so then that is dormant Kentucky bluegrass. It should return. If you don't see runners but you see clumps of grass, then that is fescue or rye and it will not come back without seeding.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 9:33PM
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You look like you need to thatch and aireate as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: Texas Gardening Forum

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 9:53AM
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